Mexico weighs grim prospect of deportation wave under Trump

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MEXICO CITY — Mexico is starting to seriously contemplate the possibility that millions of its migrants could be deported, and the picture is not pretty.

Under proposals put forward by President-elect Donald Trump, Mexico could see millions of people streaming back with no jobs available; the country might lose some of the billions of dollars in remittances sent home annually; and some jobless deportees could swell the ranks of drug cartels, sparking more violence.

Gov. Hector Astudillo of the southern state of Guerrero considered the possible scenario over the weekend. At least a million Guerrero residents live in the United States, many without proper documents, and the state is already reeling from drug gang violence and poverty.

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“Of course Guerrero is not in any condition to receive the million or more than one million migrants” in the U.S., Astudillo said. “On the contrary, they have been an important mainstay in supporting the economy of Guerrero.”

Migrants sent home almost $25 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2015, and experts say most of that went to support the most basic needs of the poorest Mexicans. Trump has suggested he might somehow seize the funds of those immigrants who are not deported to pay for a border wall.

Mexico already has a shortfall of 800,000 new jobs for youths who join the labor force each year, let alone returning migrants, said Alejandra Barrales, head of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. “We need to close ranks and create (job) opportunities, not just for people who might be deported, but for the 1.2 million young people who join the labor market each year.”

The federal government announced an emergency program this week aimed at encouraging business to hire returning migrants, but Mexico City teacher Armando Osorio doubted that would be enough, given the government’s poor track record on job creation. “These people have no moral authority to say they will receive their countrymen with open arms,” he said. “They are the ones who are mainly responsible for the forced exodus of millions of Mexicans who don’t have enough to eat.”

Even if Trump seems to be walking back the idea of mass deportations, the prospect still remains frightening for people in Mexico.

On Sunday, Trump said in an interview on the news program “60 Minutes” that “what we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, a lot of these people — probably two million, it could be three million — and getting them out of our country.”